Citi Forward Card Review & Improved Offer – $100 Gift Card Bonus

Update: Also check out the Citi Forward® Card for College Students.

As I was reminded in my best cash back credit cards post, the Citi Forward card is a great rewards card for those who spend a lot on restaurants and at That’s not everyone, but sure sounds like me in my 20s. Okay, okay… it sounds a lot like me now. What can I say, I still love food, friends, and Amazon Prime 2-day shipping. 🙂 I have this card saved as the default card on my account for the 5x points, choosing this card over the Amazon-branded credit card. Why?

The Citi Forward® Card earns 5 points for every $1 you spend on restaurants, book stores including, video rental stores, and movie theaters. On everything else, you get the plain vanilla 1 reward point for every $1 spent. The important part is that I have confirmed that all purchases count as a bookstore under their categorization system (books, textbooks, music, electronics, cool pumpkin-carving tools, etc).

The news here is that they just added a new 10,000 ThankYou point sign-up bonus, redeemable for $100 in gift cards for new cardholders to stores like Home Depot, Macy’s, Gap, etc. You must make $650 in purchases and sign up for paperless statements within the first 3 months. That is the best sign-up offer they have ever had for this card, as I got this card when it first came out.

Alternative for 10k points include a $100 gift card, or you can also get a check for $100 towards your student loan and/or mortgage. You also get another 100 points each month just for paying your bill on time and not going over your credit limit. No annual fee.


  1. A word of warning about those 100 points per month rewards for being active and paying bills on time. This well dries up after approx. 1 year of card ownership.

  2. I’ve had the card since 2009 and I still got the 100 points on my last statement.

  3. This is a great card, but (1) they’re not offering the amazon gift cards anymore (at least for me, I called and asked) and (2) although the student loans and mortgage credit redemption options are 100 points per dollar, they charge you more points when you call to redeem (they claim it’s a website error)…Still a great card if you want to redeem your points for flights, gift cards you’ll actually use or a mortgage credit of $100 for 12,700 points.

  4. We had four Forward cards in my household. Only one keeps giving 100 points per month. Others stopped. When asked about it, Citi rep said: “This promo is only for the 1st year of card ownership”.

  5. @Justin – ditto. It seems as though Citi tailors their reward programs and point structure per customer.

  6. Here is the text from the application page regarding the 100 points per dollar. The only thing is perhaps if you have no balance to pay, there is no rewards for paying in full. Bummer if true about being unavailable after a year.

    You will earn 100 bonus ThankYou Points at the end of every billing cycle during which you make your Minimum Payment or more on time, and at the end of which you are not over your credit limit. Your account must be open and not in default under any Card Agreement in order to be eligible for this award. Accounts with a zero Minimum Payment due at the end of a billing cycle will not be eligible for an award for that cycle. These bonus points are not included in the annual calendar year limit.

  7. Citi does seem to offer different ThankYou points to different cardholders, which is quite confusing and unfortunate. The best universal backup option is to do the Walmart gift card option, and then sell to

    $100 Walmart = $95.55 at = $91 cash.

    However, this ThankYou card is one of their premium cards, and therefore will have the options like mortgage and student loans listed above available.

  8. Hi Jonathan,
    First off just wanted to say I love your blog and read it almost everyday 🙂 I have a friend who just moved and found a job here in the States and has no credit history because they just issued her a social security number a few months ago. Do you happen to know if any of the rewards credit cards you recommend accept people like her?

  9. @Peter – Thanks for reading! As to your question, I’m not entirely sure about that. It might be that some of these credit cards I write about may accept her, but they are usually for those with good credit. You might consider a secured card with minimal fees, or a store card with such a limited credit history.

  10. For this card, you earn 2 ThankYou Points for every $1 spent at restaurants and on books, movies and music. Get 1 point for every $1 you spend on all other purchases. Not 5 Points.

  11. redlenses says:

    Unless you are participating in a limited-time offer, you will earn five ThankYou Points for every dollar you spend on purchases at (1) book stores, (2) record stores, (3) restaurants, including fast food restaurants, (4) motion picture theaters, and (5) video entertainment rental stores (“qualifying merchants”). You will earn one ThankYou Point for every dollar you spend on all other purchases. Book stores are defined as stand-alone merchants that primarily sell, for consumer use, books (including textbooks), magazines, maps, and calendars. Record stores are defined as stand-alone merchants that primarily sell, for consumer use, records, compact discs (CDs), music and video laser discs, and blank audio and videotapes. Restaurants, including fast food restaurants, are defined as stand-alone merchants that primarily prepare food and drinks for immediate consumption by consumers, either on the merchant’s premises or packaged for carryout. Motion picture theaters are defined as stand-alone merchants that operate movie theaters, and sell tickets as well as refreshments. Video entertainment rental stores are defined as stand-alone merchants that primarily rent videotapes, laser discs, DVDs, and video games for consumer use at home.

  12. redlenses says:

    But you are right, in large print they say:

    Earn 2 ThankYou Points for every $1 spent at restaurants and on books, movies and music. Get 1 point for every $1 you spend on all other purchases.**

    So the question is whether the $300 promo must be a “limited-time offer”, is $200 bonus worth the lower number of points in the long run? You can still get the 5 thankyou point card with a $100 promo (just use the main site, not the special link in this article).

  13. Question: Does “$500 in months 1-3, $1000 in months 4-6, and $1500 in months 7-9” mean a total of $3000 spent in 9 months? Or does it mean $500 in each of those three month periods?

  14. I just called customer service to ask why I couldn’t get a $100 best buy gift card for 10,000 points. They told me that citi Forward card did not qualify for those rewards because it didn’t have that reward tier.
    Has anyone dealt with this issue?

  15. Point inflation says:

    This is a great card for rewards, but the returns are decreasing. It used to be that a $100 statement credit was 14,500 points, it’s now 20,000 points. So the return per day spent on restaurant / music / books has decreased from 3.45% to 2.5%. Not bad, but not as good as it used to be.

  16. @Jonathan – Amazon currnetly has a promo for $10 discount when using Thank You Points at heck out.

    I just ordered a $41 pair of shoes on teh deal of day, used ~2100 points which equated to $17 off, plus a $10 discount, so they were effectively worth more than 1 cent per point, a rarity for TYP. Figured that was worth mentioning. The promo code is SWP15CT10 at check out. Expires end of March.

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